Dog that pooped rocks wins pet insurance-claims contest

pet insurance contest winnerAnd the award goes to . . . the rock-pooping pooch. Harley (pictured), a pug with a hardy constitution, ate and passed more than 100 rocks, earning him first place in the 3rd Annual VPI Hambone Award for the most unusual pet insurance claim of the year.

The contest, run by Brea, Calif.-based Veterinary Pet Insurance Co., aims to educate the public about outrageous mishaps pets can experience.

Harley's human, Lori Laverdiere of Manville, R.I., one day noticed that the dog's bowel movements were comprised of rocks. She rushed him to the animal hospital, where an X-ray (pictured) showed that his intestinal tract and half of his stomach were filled with stones.

Fortunately, Harley recovered without surgery because the stones he scarfed down were small enough for him to pass.

But Harley isn't the only pet to find himself in an unusual situation. “We get about 80,000 claims each month,” and about 20 or 30 are unusual enough to be considered for the Hambone Award, says Ella Ella-Pochay, spokesperson for VPI.

And while eating 100 rocks is rare for any animal, so-called foreign-body ingestions are fairly common among pets, says Ella-Pochay, with average treatment costs of $300 to $1,500.

pet insurance contest winnerFortunately, Laverdiere was reimbursed for 90 percent of Harley's medical bill, after meeting a $50 deductible.

“We get quite a number of foreign body ingestion claims each year, where animals have swallowed  jellyfish, hearing aids, bikinis,” she says, so it's no wonder VPI was inspired to create the Hambone Award.

During the two-week voting window this month, 4,000 votes were cast at the company website to pick the winner from 12 nominations. Harley's organic feeding frenzy earned him 1,800 votes to nab the top spot.

Second place goes to Chico the Chihuahua, a four-pound pup who survived a talon-squeeze from a Great Horned Owl.  Stella Artois, a Labrador who placed third, went Dumpster diving, and surfaced with a tin can lodged in her jaw.  Another Labrador retriever ate an entire beehive, along with the bees, and vomited hundreds of the dead insects, but lived to place first in last year's contest.

For being top dog in the Hambone Award contest -- named after a canine that devoured an entire holiday ham while accidentally locked inside a fridge -- Harley wins a bronze trophy of a ham bone and a goodie bag of treats.

Could your budget benefit from pet insurance? Read about the basics of pet insurance.

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